In our search for some of the most unknown places for metal we checked out Nepal. Mostly what we know about Nepal is that Gautam Buddha was born there, Mount Everest exists there and that it is mainly mountains with very little economy boost in the past. So, from the not-so Metal things about Nepal, we now showcase another subculture that's flourishing in the hills, mountains and valleys of Nepal - the Metal Culture.
We have Sunil Dev Pant, the vocalist cum bassist and founding member of UgraKarma (which is Sanskrit meaning: Harmful / Extreme Action) answering our questions. What will come as the biggest shock to most of the people out there is this band exists from 1999. Yes, and the fact that they have stuck around is testimony to their love for metal, and on the down side the unfortunate situation that happens when talent doesn't come into the open just because its not mainstream. Read on to find what Sunil had to say to GMA..
Farzand: Greetings from India. How is it going in the hills brother?
Sunil: Bestial hails!!! The hills are alive with the sound of death and destruction because of the monsoons.
Farzand: We keep hearing about the devastated economy of Nepal, in all of this where does Metal come in?
Sunil: I have found that Death Metal really has nothing to do with the economy. In fact it flourishes even during war, desperation and turmoil. Death metal is universal, every country has at least one Death Metal band. But there are problems associated with being in a band in a poor country: lack of decent equipment, poor quality sound during gigs and recordings, very little exposure, fewer metalheads attending gigs, etc. But all these things do not matter if you really want to do it.
Our practice space (which was mostly my room) had a drum set with no snare (replaced by a tom), no toms, one broken cymbal, and hi-hats without a stand. We had one proper guitar and a f**ked up amp. No microphones so we'd just have to growl louder than the instruments. Gigs weren't much better either: rubbish power amps and constant feedback.
Things have changed now. Lots of practice places have popped up all over town, bands now have decent gear and if they can't buy shit they can always rent. Gigs have good sound quality, even the underground ones.
Farzand: So, how did UgraKarma (Sanskrit, Meaning: Harmful Action or extreme action, doesn't have to be harmful) happen in all of this?
Sunil: UgraKarma started out in 1999 with the idea of playing what we loved to listen to. Back then we were into Death, Black, Thrash and Grindcore and that's what we wanted to play. Did a few shows, won awards (hahahahaha), got our material recorded, got a demo and an album out.
Farzand: Kathmandu seems to be metal hub of Nepal, having bands like Jugaa, Binaash, amongst others spreading it around, how have the people responded to this evolution?
Sunil: The local scene has gotten f**king huge. Lots of people in high schools and colleges seem to enjoy metal music in general. Massive crowds and big stages at shows. We are also starting to see some popular bands from the West play in Kathmandu: Vader, Napalm Death, Decapitated etc.
But Death Metal is not really popular. It is still underground, if I may use this heavily misused term. Difference is that 15 years ago most kids would not know what death metal was, now almost every kid knows what it is even though they may not listen to it.
But Death Metal gigs are f**king intense in Kathmandu, insane mosh-pits, crazy headbanging and a very supportive crowd. There are some really good Nepali DM bands actively playing shows and recording their stuff: Binaash, Dying Out Flame, Broken Hymen, Narsamhaar just to name a few.
Farzand: 14 years till this day Ugrakarma exists, and many people haven't heard the term, forgot the band, must have been some struggle to stay up with real metal?
Sunil: We play Death Metal, and there are lots of struggles if one chooses this path. We understand that this kind of music is not liked by everyone, we will never get rich and famous playing Death Metal. But the love for the art is what keeps us going. We have a small but a strong fan following and that also helps us to keep pushing forward. We don't really care if people remember us or not. UgraKarma is not for the masses, and we are happy with it.
Farzand: Which bands do you sight as the one's who turned you all into forming Ugrakarma?
Sunil: Macabre, Rigor Mortis, Sarcofago, Slayer, early Sepultura, Von, Cranium, Cannibal Corpse, Sinister, Unleashed, Sodom, Morbid Angel and many more. Teutonic thrash, Brazilian Death / Black, American / Japanese / Dutch Death Metal, English Grind etc.
Farzand: What are the topics you guys like dealing with while making songs?
Sunil: Death, Destruction, Perversion, Serial Killers, Anti-Religion etc. Newer stuff is similar but we are also including parts of our land and culture that we find interesting: animal sacrifice en mass, death of mountain climbers, chaos and destruction, killings etc.
Farzand: 1 demo, 1 album, 2 singles (one featuring on the Ghazalat compilation), where do we hear UgraKarma next?
Sunil: We are currently recording an EP slated to be release by Legion of Death (France) on vinyl. There will be a CD version for Nepal only. Once this is done we are planning to do a full length album. But we will be playing a shit ton of live shows before we head into the studios again.
Farzand: A word for all the guys out there supporting metal the way it should be done?
Sunil: To all metalheads out there, support local metal and stop running after popular bands from abroad. The ones that really need your support are the bands that are just starting out: go to their shows, buy their merch, spread the word thru social media, shake their hands, take picture with them... just f**king support your local metal band whatever way you can.
Bestail hails to all!!!!
Ugra Karma are:-
Bikram - Drums
Prateek - Guitars, Vocals (formerly also bass)
Bijay - Vocals (backing), Bass
Sunil - Vocals, Bass (formerly also guitars)
By Farzand Bawa